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jerryking : bonfire_of_the_vanities   3

What Jeffrey Epstein’s black book tells us about Manhattan
AUGUST 23, 2019 | Financial Times | Holly Peterson.

...it makes perfect sense that Epstein would need a black book of people he knew — and wanted to know. He couldn’t get to the top of the totem pole otherwise. His career was so secretive, his CV so sparse, that no one knew where his money came from. What he needed was a social network.

The primary axiom to remember in this hideous saga: rich people don’t get richer only because of tax windfalls. Rich people get richer because they hang out together....Most of the Americans included in the black book have one common denominator: they are socially and professionally voracious people who form part of New York’s “Accomplisher Class”. The accomplishers appear at book parties, Davos, the Aspen Ideas Festival, benefits and openings. They understand that to be avidly social is to assure recognition and prominence. Remember, the rich covet convening power: the ability to reach a point where one’s social and professional life are confused as one....Tina Brown has been an astute observer of New York society....“The alpha energy of Manhattan is far more intense than anywhere European: more money, bigger stakes. Every achiever who wants to get to the top, has to fight like hell to be seen and heard on this island.”.....The now ossified Wasp culture may still count for country club memberships or the preppy glow of a Ralph Lauren advertisement, but not much else. New York high society has been paradoxically meritocratic for a few decades, at least since the go-go 1980s......On a grander scale, the accomplisher class is neither defective nor debauched. When accomplishers exchange ideas, much good can come in the form of entrepreneurship in technology, business or innovative arts.....At its best, the American system of philanthropy launches museums and hospitals, urban and charter schools, and relief to the poor in towns all over America. Much of this is enabled by the accomplishers, aided by tax laws that promote charitable deductions. People in this group have multiple invites most weekday nights to attend benefits that help the causes they care about most, with the added value of showing off how magnanimous they are in programmes that list precisely how much they gave....Attending a high-end event in New York is a way of taking a victory lap with other accomplishers around the room......It would be a mistake to assume that the accomplisher class is all about wealth. If you want access to capital or airwaves, boring and rich doesn’t get you that far in this high-testosterone playground. If you ran your father’s company into the ground, you’re a nobody in this town. The paycheck is not all that matters: editorial media power controls the conversation, foundation power means you write the big checks. What people admire is top achievement in almost any field....Accomplishers in New York society may be particularly American in that they do not necessarily shy away from a bad reputation. They are so interested in a story and a comeback that they can forgive human failings, and are often intrigued with flaws as much as success.

What’s more, New York is so relentlessly fast-paced and ambition among the accomplishers so colossal, they don’t always take the time to be discerning.
Accomplisher_Class  Bonfire_of_the_Vanities  comebacks  elitism  high-achieving  high_net_worth  Jeffrey_Epstein  Manhattan  New_York_City  overachievers  philanthropy  political_power  reputation  the_One_percent  Tina_Brown  meritocratic  The_Establishment  social_networking  social_classes  tax_codes 
august 2019 by jerryking
Where is San Francisco’s Bonfire of the Vanities?
December 21, 2108 | | Financial Times | by Janan Ganesh.

Victor Hugo’s Paris. Tom Wolfe’s New York. Charles Dickens’s London. Whose San Francisco? Even a brief visit confirms its resemblance to these other cities at their most feverishly written-about. It has the same street-level squalor, the same inventive genius, the same jittery, barricaded rich.....Careering down the Bay Bridge in an Uber (founded in San Francisco), I gawp at the superior physical setting. The raw materials for a classic, a Les Misérables of the Tenderloin, are all here. And yet 18 years into a century that it has shaped, and almost 50 since the journalistic coinage of “Silicon Valley”, this place remains near-absent from literature. What fiction there is about modern San Francisco, including the first novel published on Medium, by former Google executive Jessica Powell, tends not to detain the Nobel committee.....The biggest story in American commerce and, when you think of tech’s displacing effects, in American society too, has been left to journalists and the occasional biopic to tell. The result is a story half-told. We have the numbers but not the anthropological nuance. Imagine trying to understand 1980s New York with stock indices and crime data, but without Bonfire of the Vanities. Except, an east-coast powerhouse would never suffer a literary snub. That a western one does suggests more about the writers, perhaps, than about the subject.....Seven of America’s 10 biggest cities are now west of the Mississippi River. .....Where San Francisco blends into the low-rise Anyplace of Santa Clara, you can see their point. But the city itself, with its layers of desperation and opulence, is Dickensian. It just lacks a Dickens, or even a lesser chronicler.....A planet-moulding capital of technology deserves its due, too. The stories are there, if writers can accept the western drift of their nation’s energies.
Bonfire_of_the_Vanities  fiction  Janan_Ganesh  literature  San_Francisco  Silicon_Valley  Tom_Wolfe  writers 
december 2018 by jerryking
The two faces of the 1 per cent
August 19, 2017 | Financial Times | Janan Ganesh.

On top of its book sales, film adaptation and third life as an opera, The Bonfire of the Vanities achieved a rare feat. It turned its author into a 56-year-old enfant terrible. Thirty years have passed since Tom Wolfe’s first novel imagined New York City as an opulent failed state, where millionaires are one wrong turn from barbarian mobs and race card-players on the make.
....Bonfire can be read as a book about two different kinds of elite. You might characterise them as the moneyed and the cultured. Or as private enterprise and public life.....there is a real split among urbanites, who are too often grouped together. It is one that has been lost in the negative obsession with the elite in recent years. Think of it as the difference between the two LSEs — the London Stock Exchange and the London School of Economics — or the stereotypical FT reader and the stereotypical FT writer.

When populists attack elites, they conflate people who work in the media, the arts, politics, academia and some areas of the law with entrepreneurs, investment bankers and internationally mobile corporate professionals. The Brexit campaign defined itself against high finance but also against human rights QCs and know-it-all actors — as if these fields were one.

I commit this elision in my own columns and I should know better. By dint of my job, I meet people in each world (plus a few supple characters who bestride both) and they are different. The public elite tend to the liberal left. The private elite are apolitical swing voters. Each side has little idea what the other lot does all day. They have different tastes, different idioms and they dominate different parts of their cities.

Even in London, a New York-Los Angeles-Washington hybrid in its centralisation of the public and the private, the two clans rub against each other (at the opera, at Arsenal’s stadium) without blending into one. Until Brexit put them on the same side, the cultural elite often viewed the moneyed as the enemy — mauling the skyline, pricing them out of Hampstead. Above all, each group has its own insecurity. The public elite nurse constant material worries. Despite their membership of the economic 1 per cent (something they will deny even as you show them the graphs) they fear for their foothold in expensive cities......The private elite worry that they are not very interesting. I have seen tycoons cringe in the presence of niche-interest authors. Some attempt late-career entries into public life, often through the publication of a political treatise or some involvement in the arts. Executives follow “thought leaders” who are less intelligent than they are. Politicians know the type: the loaded donor who fears to leave a campaign meeting in case a couple of young advisers, who do not earn a six-figure salary between them, mock his unoriginal contribution.

Other differences are surprising. The public elite talk a wonderful game about diversity and work in fields that have a better balance of women and men. But the private elite tend to work among more races and nationalities: some trading floors look like 1980s Benetton commercials. The same seems true of social background. I would advise a young graduate without relatives in high places to choose corporate life over the media....Creativity is more precious than wealth. There is a reason why the most fashionable members’ clubs admit freelance graphic designers, who live hand-to-mouth, and black ball superstar bankers. In a sense, Fallow’s total victory over McCoy is classic Wolfe: it lacks the nuance of great art, but it gets at a truth.
Bonfire_of_the_Vanities  Tom_Wolfe  fiction  writers  enfant_terrible  New_York_City  novels  the_One_Percent  elitism  Janan_Ganesh  insecurities  hand-to-mouth  LSE  superstars 
august 2017 by jerryking

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